If there’s one thing you can’t miss during your time in Australia, it’s the chance to experience some of the country’s incredible wilderness. From mountains to deserts, tropical islands to rainforests, the land Down Under has it all. Wonderfully, much of it is super accessible care of Australia’s fabulous national parks network. You can choose from Red Centre splendour, Great Barrier Reef brilliance Tremendous Tasmania and much more, so here are 15 of the most amazing National Parks in Australia to get you inspired..
No. 1 National Parks in Australia – Kakadu, NT
Australia’s largest National Park, Kakadu is simply enormous and requires at least a few days to really explore it. From endangered wetlands perfect for bird watching, through to rivers teeming with crocs and waterfalls that beggar belief, this is the big daddy of them. No trip to Kakadu is complete with watching sunset from Ubirr or swimming at the top of Gunlom Falls. So definitely get this giant beauty on your bucket list!
More information: Kakadu National Park – 3 days
No. 2 National Parks in Australia – Blue Mountains, NSW
Starting only an hour outside the bustling metropolis of Sydney, the Blue Mountains feel like a world away. So called because of the coloured mist the numerous eucalyptus trees here produce, the Blue Mountains make the perfect adventure day trip from the city. Choose from abseiling, hiking, cycling, rock climbing and horse riding, or just admire the view from the famous scenic railway as the Three Sisters and wonderful Katoomba Falls pass you by.
More information: Visit the Blue Mountains
No. 3 National Parks in Australia – Karijini, WA
Up in the north of Western Australia, Karijini is renowned for its strikingly blue water holes and breathtakingly rugged landscapes. Australia’s second largest national park, this semi-arid area of the country is best visited during the winter months, when the temperatures are sufficiently low enough for you to experience this place at its best. With awe-inspiring escarpments, beautiful gorges and wicked views, keep an eye out for the weird and wonderful pebble-mouse mounds too!
More information: Karijini National Park
No. 4 National Parks in Australia – Whitsunday Islands, QLD
When it comes to images of paradise, the Whitsunday Islands National Park is hard to beat. These tiny drops of heaven are scattered amongst the Great Barrier Reef and boast perfect white beaches, crystal clear waters and an array of awesome activities. Be it a sailing tour, a helicopter flight, a camping trip or a snorkeling experience, the Whitsunday Islands really must be seen to be believed. Hotspots include the famous Whitehaven Beach, as well as the Heart Reef and Hamilton Island, so make sure you allow at least a few days to soak up the magic of this destination.
No. 5 National Parks in Australia – Litchfield, NT
Near the small, sleepy town of Batchelor in Australia’s Northern Territory, is the wonderful Litchfield National Park. Showcasing some of the area’s largest termite mounds – seriously you can’t believe how huge these are! As well as great cascades and swimming holes, Litchfield National Park makes an ideal day trip from nearby Darwin. Make sure you check out Florence Falls and Wangi Falls, which are some of Australia’s best.
No. 6 National Parks in Australia – Wilsons Promontory, Vic
One thing that everyone who’s been to Wilsons Prom always seems blown away by is the intense diversity of this park. It captures numerous breathtaking landscapes. From coastal views and secluded bays, to forest walking tracks and wildlife drives. This National Park is a firm favourite of both Victorians and visitors alike. So be sure to get Wilsons Prom on your Australia bucket list – for walking, relaxing and unplugging from the world, it’s hard to beat.
More info: Visit Wilsons Promontory
No. 7 National Parks in Australia – Carnarvon Gorge, QLD
The incredible Carnarvon Gorge National Park is little known by tourists, making it one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Teeming with wildlife, awesome walking, aboriginal rock art and stunning lookouts. This tropical oasis is well worth the trek into Queensland’s remote Central Highlands. I was blown away by Carnarvon Gorge and really couldn’t recommend it enough if you are looking to explore the enormity of Australia’s beauty off the beaten track.
No. 8 National Parks in Australia – Cradle Mountain, Tas
Part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area, Cradle Mountain is an ideal National Park for hikers. Choose from ranger led-day walks or independent multi-day hikes. Both of which will take you through the park’s incredible ancient forests and dramatic gorges. Joined with Lake St Clair National Park, it’s Cradle Mountain itself that really dominates this part of the landscape and few can fail to be stunned by it.
More info: Cradle Mountain National Park
No. 9 National Parks in Australia – Uluru-Kata Tjuta, NT
At the heart of Red Centre lies the iconic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home to Australia’s most famous monolith. The huge mound of Uluru (formerly known as Ayres Rock) sits at the heart of this massive reserve and truly has to be seen to be believed. Alongside it is the slightly less famous, but no less striking, Kata Tjuta – an incredible rock formation just as beautiful as its larger cousin. Get up early here to photograph the sunrise over both of these majestic structures and then enjoy walks around them that really highlight the best of this wild landscape.
No. 10 National Parks in Australia – Great Sandy (Fraser Island), QLD
Hot on the list of every backpacker, and for good reason, is the World Heritage site of Fraser Island, part of Queensland’s Great Sandy National Park. The world’s largest sandbar, I always describe Fraser Island as being like a huge natural theme park for adults! From stunning freshwater lakes, to lazy-river experiences and close encounters with dingoes, Fraser Island is a non-stop adventure all completed in a crazy 4wd blur! At the end of the day, camp under the stars and relish the perfection of the night skies here!
No. 11 National Parks in Australia – Ningaloo Reef, WA
Now who in their right mind would want to pass up the opportunity to dive with whale sharks amidst the stunning tropical waters of Western Australia? Certainly not me and that’s why heading to Ningaloo Reef is easily one of the best experiences you can have in the Land Down Under. This World Heritage Reef is so close to the shore you can snorkel right from the beach and the chance to spot dolphins, dugongs, rays, turtles and tropical fish, as well as the wonderful whale sharks, is a treat that awaits most who come here.
No. 12 National Parks in Australia – Daintree, QLD
Home to the famous Mossman Gorge, the Daintree National Park is a glimpse into the life of a tropical rainforest at its best. Close to the city of Cairns in the state’s northern regions, this hot and humid area is teeming with life and exotic plants. Choose from walking tours, 4wd adventures or cultural insights into how indigenous Australians lived in harmony with this unique ecology for thousands of years.
No. 13 National Parks in Australia – Port Campbell, Vic
At the heart of the world-famous Great Ocean Road lies Port Campbell National Park. For anyone that’s ever seen a picture of the 12 Apostles, being greeted by these huge natural statues in real life is as breathtaking an experience as you’d expect and one you’re bound to remember. The wonderful Lord Arc Gorge and London Bridge are also contained within the park’s boundaries and between them, they really display the immense power and strength of nature on this wild edge of Australia.
No. 14 National Parks in Australia – Kalbarri, WA
Just north of Geraldton in Western Australia, Kalbarri National Park showcases one of the state’s most beautiful strips of coastline. Explore hidden beaches, wonderful walking tracks and towering cliffs, as you spot passing whales and dolphins. One of the most accessible National Parks on this list, with access for all types of vehicle, Kalbarri National Park beautifully highlights the best of Australia’s Coral Coast.
No. 15 National Parks in Australia – Freycinet, Tas
Home to the iconic Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park on Tasmania’s east coast is certainly one of the country’s finest. Camping and eco-retreat accommodation are both available within the park’s boundaries, so it’s well worth staying a few days here to really experience the full splendor of this unique location. Be it photographing the pink granite peaks at dawn or exploring the Moulting Lagoon, this is a special place that shouldn’t be missed.
So there you have it, the top 15 national parks in Australia. Which ones have you been to and which ones were your favourite? Let us know in the comments box below.
Updated on the 25/11/2019. Initially published on the 20/09/2018.